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Written by Super User

 (Photo © Vivadrome LLC/Chet Garner)

To many, the word “Dublin” conjures up images of green hills, lucky clovers, and jigging leprechauns in a faraway land. However, replace those with rolling pastures, prickly cacti, and jigging Daytrippers, and you have a Texas version of the Irish town that’s only a car ride away.

Can’t get enough of Texas’ wild and wonderful wildflowers? Check out these annual springtime celebrations of fun and flowers.

SPRING'S THE THING!

Texas Highways and our friends at The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center are teaming up again our annual wildflower photo exhibit. From May 4-12, the Wildflower Center’s McDermott Learning Center will showcase the flowery photos in this issue. The display salutes National Wildflower Week and provides a perfect prelude to explorations of the Center’s glorious gardens and trails, as well as the new Mollie Steves Zachry Texas Arboretum. 

Mark your calendar for other spring fetes during the Center’s Wildflower Days (March 11-May 31): The Artists & Artisans Festival March 9-10 (includes exhibit openings for Shou Ping’s paper sculptures and Denise Counley’s watercolors); The Spring Plant Sale and Gardening Festival April 13-14; and Gardens on Tour May 11 (tours of the Center’s displays and five private native-plant gardens). Call 512/232-0100; www.wildflower.org.

And for details about this year's wildflower photo contest (which runs from April 1-May 6), go to www.wildflower.org/photocontest. —Jill Lawless

 

SNAP AWAY!

It's photo contest time

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Highways magazine are partnering, again, for the fourth annual wildflower photography contest. The last three years have seen some increasingly phenomenal entries. We know that you all will shine this year, too.

We're bringing back popular categories such as Botanical, Landscape, People with Wildflowers and Wildlife in Native Landscape category. Another category being introduced is Native Landscape at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Categories which drew little response, including the Under 18 and Black and White categories, have been eliminated this year. 

"We are thrilled this year to welcome photographers out to the Wildflower Center with our new cateogory," says Wildflower Center representative Saralee Tiede. 

Last year nearly 13,000 votes were cast for 1,700 photographs through our public voting process. Judges then chose their favorites in each categories. All winning images appeared in the Fall issue of Wildflower magazine. The same is planned for this year’s winning images.

You may enter between April 1 and May 6. Check back for information or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

WIN TICKETS

Free admission to the Wildflower Center

As spring rolls in, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center's calendar is jam-packed with events. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for an opportunity to win free admission for two to the Center.

Drummond phlox in Gonzalez County. (Photo © Laurence Parent)

What's your flower IQ?The world didn’t end in December with the Mayan calendar. The zombie apocalypse has yet to occur. Sure, the weather has gone all cattywampus, but nonetheless, spring will return to Texas, bringing with it the annual miracle that is our wildflowers.

The Old Settlers Music Festival, a celebration of bluegrass, blues, Americana, roots, and acoustic jazz—takes place April 18-21 at Camp Ben McCulloch and the Salk Lick Pavilion in Driftwood. See the April issue for writer John T. Davis’ take on this popular spring event. Here, Executive Director Jean Spivey offers a few tips for making the most of your weekend.

“If you’re going to the festival for the campground shows, on Thursday and Sunday, you can bring coolers and your own food,” says Jean. “But at the Salt Lick Pavilion, where we have shows on Friday and Saturday, we don’t allow them. But we do sell a selection of great food, beer, and wine! We’re selling craft beers, but we’re also offering our own private-label wine, made by Duchman Family Winery in Driftwood.  

“Also, we offer free parking on site, but on Saturday you’ll want to come early because we always overflow to the rancher’s field across the street. And parking there costs $5 per car.

“Please bring your instrument if have one. There are lots of impromptu jams that spring up, and we also have lots of free performance workshops. Even if you don’t play, some of the workshops can be interesting. For example, we have a shaker workshop, where the instructors talk about rhythm and how to shake your shaker!

“If you’re bringing kids, know that the kids’ activities are  most plentiful on Saturday. We have all the inflatables, plus pony rides, a petting zoo, arts-and-crafts, and of course the Youth Competition on Saturday morning at 10:30. We have had a lot of good talent come through the Youth Competition, such as Grammy-nominee Sarah Jarosz. Certainly worth checking out."

 

 

 

  (Photo by Michael Amador)

In the January issue of Texas Highways, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt explores New Braunfels’ historic district of Gruene, a community founded in the 1800s as a cotton-ginning town. The town founder, Henry Gruene, built a dance hall here in 1878, but the whole community had fallen into decline by end of World War I, in part because of a boll weevil infestation that destroyed the cotton crops here (and elsewhere in Texas).

 In 1975, the dance hall’s restoration kicked off a rebirth of Gruene itself.  Lori spoke with the mastermind behind the hall’s restoration, Pat Molak, to learn more about Gruene’s history.

“Well,” says Pat Molak, “In the early 1970s I was finishing an unsuccessful career as a stockbroker in San Antonio. I knew I didn’t want to be in the business anymore, and I was literally looking for a dance hall. A friend of mine told me that there was this old dance hall near New Braunfels, and the next thing you know, we went up there to take a look.

“The front of the hall was being run as a beer joint. And when I went to use the restrooms, lo and behold there was this great dance hall there. It was being used as storage. We made a deal under the cedar trees in the beer garden, and the next thing I knew, I owned a dance hall.

“We honestly didn’t do too much to it. We knocked out a few walls, but all the signage and the stage backdrop were already there. We cleaned up all the trash, rewired the building, brought in potable water, bought a few new beer boxes, and hired some bands.

“We were feeling our way. It was 1975, and back then, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker had just gotten to Austin, and we knew we liked their music. That was the sound we were interested in. So by the fall of ’75, we had been having dances for about four months, and there was a band in San Marcos called the Ace in the Hole Band, led by a fellow named George Strait. We hired them for $150 bucks. They played until the early 1980s when George got his contract in Nashville.    

“He shot the image for his first album, ‘Strait Country,’ at Gruene Hall, and then returned in 2009 to shoot the images for his record ‘Twang.’ He and his wife, Norma, spent the whole day in Gruene, just like the old days. That dance hall is magical. A whole lot of artists, from Chris Isaak to Jerry Jeff Walker to Pat Green, tell me it’s one of their favorite places to play.”

(Photo by Michael Amador)In the January issue of Texas Highways, Senior Editor Lori Moffatt uncovers a link between a no-frills north Austin Vietnamese restaurant called Tam Deli and Austin celebrity chef and restaurant entrepreneur Larry McGuire, whose dining empire includes the French-Vietnamese restaurant Elizabeth Street Café, Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, Perla’s Seafood, the new Clark’s Oyster Bar, and the highly anticipated reinvention of Jeffrey’s, long regarded as one of the city’s first and finest upscale eateries.

The connection? It’s that as a teenager, McGuire often dined on noodle bowls and banh mi (Vietnamese French-bread sandwiches) at Tam Deli, and that some of the dishes at the upscale Elizabeth Street Café are homages to dishes served at Tam, such as the sweet-potato fritters.   

 “My favorite dining places tend to be family-run joints, often no-frills places that focus on cuisines from Mexico, South America, India, and Asia, because the food can be so inventive and delicious—and affordable, “ says Lori.  

“My favorite ‘restaurant row’ in town is an admittedly unattractive stretch of Lamar Boulevard north of 183, where you can find dozens of interesting restaurants serving Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Pakistani, and Indian fare.

“Just a few blocks north of the Lamar/US 183 intersection, on the west side of the street next to a Korean Presbyterian Church, is Tam Deli, which is famous for its banh mi and vanilla custard-filled cream puffs—dishes that are culinary reminders of Vietnam’s long French occupation. Drive north a quarter mile or so, and on the west side of the street, and in two strip malls between Peyton Gin Road and West Rundberg Lane, you’ll find an interesting assortment of options for adventuresome diners, including Mariscos Los Jarochos, a Mexican seafood joint with a menu in Spanish; a tiny, hole-in-the-wall Korean place called Together that serves a great smoked mackerel and beef bulgogi; two fascinating Indian grocery stores; Shalimar Indian restaurant (skip the buffet and order from the menu) and a Vietnamese place called Thanh Ni.

“Cross Rundberg going north, and you’ll find yet another mash-up of ethnic influences jammed together in a spiritless strip mall, including Agha, a narrow and spotless place that serves Indian and Pakistani smoothies, ice-cream desserts, and fruit juices; Lucky Bakery, a Hong Kong-style bakery that makes killer curry buns and does a brisk business in birthday cakes; the Cuban Sandwich Café; and Nyuy Vietnamese restaurant, where I rarely resist the fabulous marinated beef lettuce wraps from the appetizer menu. The waiter brings you platters of beef, romaine, mint, basil, cilantro, shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, jalapenos, and bean sprouts, and you make your own spring rolls at the table. Nyuy changed its name recently from Le Soleil, because evidently people were mistaking it for a French restaurant.

“Across the street from all of this wonderfulness, next to a huge disco called Rodeo and a Japanese karaoke parlor, is a tiny Indian grocery story called Taj Grocer and perhaps my favorite Indian restaurant in Austin, Swad.  You must forgive the plastic cutlery and greenish lighting, and instead marvel at a menu of Southern vegetarian Indian street food. My favorite thing there is the onion and potato dosa—a giant crepe made of rice-and-lentil batter, stuffed with onions and potatoes—all for less than $5.

“Keep going north, and on the west side of Lamar, about midway between Rundberg and Kramer Lane, and you’ll find a place called T&S Chinese Seafood. I learned about T&S a few years ago, and back then the rumor was that chefs often visited T&S late-night after their own kitchens shut down. I don’t know if that’s true, but the food is really good here, and it’s open late. For dinner, I like the salt-and-pepper shrimp, but be sure to order a vegetable dish as well; I like the mushroom-and-Chinese broccoli combination. The dim sum on Sunday is also fun.

“Finally, continue just a few blocks north, and on the east side of Lamar, you’ll find Chinatown Center. This is a shopping complex anchored by Austin’s largest Asian grocery store, MT Supermarket. I love going to MT for crazy greens, unusual fruits, and condiments from around the world. MT also has a huge selection of housewares, ranging from monstrous plastic bowls for preparing noodles for a crowd, rice cookers, pretty sake sets, and all manner of ladles, spoons, strainers, and other interesting items. Some of my vegetarian friends come here to stock up in the frozen-food section. I also like MT’s selection of Chinese and Japanese ice-cream products; in particular I’m addicted to these popsicles made of red beans; they’re sweet and great for dessert but also have 6-7 grams of protein.

“Other interesting shops in Chinatown Center include a Chinese herbalist (the dried ginger here is terrific); a salon dedicated solely (pun intended) to Chinese foot massage; a dessert and sandwich shop called Short n’ Sweet (try the durian yogurt if you’re feeling adventuresome—it smells like a locker room but tastes delicious); two banh mi shops called Lily’s Sandwich and the Baguette House; a Korean barbecue place called the Korean Grill (go with a group and cook your meal at a tabletop grill); and a highly regarded Vietnamese noodle place called Pho Saigon.

“Drop me a line if you go to any of these places, and let me know what you find!”

Light Crust Doughboys. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

In the January 2013 issue of Texas Highways, writer Gene Fowler explores the history of the Light Crust Doughboys, which began in Fort Worth in 1931 when Burrus Mills hired some musicians to advertise their Light Crust Flour on the radio. In the course of his research, Gene visited with longtime bandmember Art Greenhaw about the group's long career.

Texas TraveLog, the state's official travel industry newsletter, is published monthly by the Texas Department of Transportation. Click the link below to download the latest issue. To receive TexasTraveLog by mail, simply fill out the subscription form.

THIS MONTH: Mummies at The Witte - Victory or Death letter returns to Alamo -Kimbell Celebrates 40

TRAVEL NEWS
Formula One World Championship race inaugurates Austin's new Circuit of the Americas track. (Image courtesy of Circuit of the Americas)This month, Austin christens the brand new 3.427-mile Circuit of the Americas track as it plays host to one of the world’s most prestigious motor racing events, Formula One World Championship. The Formula One United States Grand Prix, set for Nov. 18, is held at the first circuit in the United States built especially for Formula One. It is the penultimate round, with the final being played out in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Other countries that have played host to this year’s qualifying races include Australia, Malaysia, China, Spain, Monaco, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan.
With an estimated 300,000 visitors expected to come in for the event, the City of Austin set plans in motion to help ease traffic challenges, maximize the city’s exposure and to help local businesses make the most of the opportunities that come with it through its website austintexas.gov/grandprix.
Locallyaustin.org’s new mobile-friendly website and app offer visitors a guide to the local experience. The www.capmetro.org/f1 and www.movabilityaustin.org websites offer information about street closings and general tips for the community about getting around during F1.
The countdown to race day started with a “First Lap Ceremony” that included celebrity drivers and VIPs. The Circuit’s official ambassador (and former Formula One World Champion driver) Mario Andretti cut the black-and-white checkered starting grid banner before testing out the circuit in the Lotus 79 Formula 1 car that helped him win his World Championship.
“It’s everything I expected and more,” says Andretti. “The track is phenomenal. It has all the features that you are looking for, giving you the opportunity to overtake, while negotiating some tighter corners. You can tell a lot of thought has gone into it.”
San Antonio businessman and Circuit founding partner, Red McCombs, says, “I’ve been excited since I was first introduced to this product and the fact that we now have it finished is a joy of mine.” “When I found out how Formula 1 is viewed everywhere else in the world, and the dramatic impact it has on the countries where it is run— it is their Super Bowl each year, it is their World Cup—I realized that Formula 1 has an identity that we need in the United States. And for us to be able to do this here in Austin is so exciting I just can’t wait for the people to be a part of that.”
In conjunction with the event, a 3-day Austin FanFest in the city’s Warehouse District showcases of free concerts, street performers, F1 simulators, F1 show cars, family fun zone and more. Ticketed concerts by Aerosmith with Cheap Trick and more also are slated.
For more information, visit www.austinfanfest.com.
In 2013, Circuit of the Americas is scheduled to host a bevy of events including the Texas Motorcycle Grand Prix, FIA World Endurance Championship, Road Racing World Championship (MotoGP), the Australian V8 Supercars series, Rolex Sports Car Series and the American Le Mans Series.
For more information on the race, visit www.formula1.com.

'Victory or Death' letter to return to Alamo

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission voted to allow the return of Col. William Barret Travis’ “Victory or Death” letter to the Alamo in March for the 177th anniversary of its writing. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, custodian of the Shrine of Texas Liberty, made the request for the historic return.
This will be the first time the letter has been at the Alamo since it was written there on Feb. 24, 1836, at the beginning of the famous siege and battle. Col. Travis wrote the letter in desperation as the Mexican tyrant Santa Anna’s troops laid siege. His letter — now the crown jewel of Texas history — drew the nation’s attention to the plight of the Texians heroic last stand at the Alamo.
“Travis’  ‘Victory or Death’ letter is one of the great, defining documents of American history and will inspire countless Texans who take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see it for themselves,” says Patterson, who is now working to raise $100,000 in private donations to pay for transportation and security expenses to display the letter.
“The question all Texans will be asking next spring is: Have you seen the letter?” he adds. “We welcome the world to the Alamo to share in this moment in history.”
For more information, visit the Texas General Land Office website at glo.texas.gov or the Official Alamo website at thealamo.org.



In continued efforts to beautify about 4.5 miles of the Concho Riverfront, San Angelo recently unveiled seven large mosaic pieces commissioned by local artists –  five sculptures and two murals –  during “The Great Reveal” on Oct. 27.
The benefactor is an organization named Art in Uncommon Places, founded by retired art teachers Sue Rainey and Julie Raymond. Artists were recruited to work under three directives: They must use a car part; one of the pieces had to be functional; and all the pieces must be mosaic from tip to tip. The artists went to work with up to 1,000 volunteers per piece over a period of six years, using recycled materials.


Finishing touches to the Comanche train depot have been completed, and the restored 1912 structure is open for business again as the new Comanche Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center headquarters.
Friends of Historic Comanche raised nearly $300,000 in private donations to restore the facility that also serves as a train museum.
Nancy Wilkerson, former president of the Friends organization says “lots of people who were not particularly interested in saving old buildings were very interested in the old depot. It seemed to touch people’s lives more than other historical landmarks.”
For more information, call the chamber at (325) 356-3233.

IN THE RANKS
In its October issue, Travel + Leisure magazine released its 2012 World’s Best Awards and some Texas strongholds are noted, once again.
Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin makes Travel + Leisure World Best Awards for the eighth straight year in a row. With a score of 88.16 the property claims the No. 10 position as one of the World’s Best Destination Spas for 2012.
The current co-owners Mike McAdams and Billy Rucks purchased the property and completed the 25,000-square foot Lake House Spa in 2004.
Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas placed 35th among an impressive list of the 50 World’s Best Hotels.
The magazine notes that “The Dallas icon of luxury, founded in 1980 when oil heiress Caroline Rose Hunt turned a circa-1925 cotton magnate’s mansion into the only Five-Diamond hotel in Texas, undertook a full freshening up for its 30th anniversary.” Its location—on a leafy residential street in the heart of downtown Dallas—is hard to beat, it adds.
In categories encompassing the continental U.S., the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Dallas ranked among the top resorts; Southwest Airlines reached Hall of Fame status for its 10th year on the list among top domestic airlines; and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas was listed as the second on the list of top large city hotels.
Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa near Bastrop and Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio ranked 18th and 50th, respectively, as top family hotels in the U.S.


ON EXHIBIT

Kimbell showcases vast collection for 40th

Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum is showcasing the largest-ever display of its world-renowned permanent collection as part of a three-month-long commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the opening of its building, a Louis I. Kahn modernist masterwork.
The Kimbell at 40: An Evolving Masterpiece showcases more than 220 masterpieces –– arranged chronologically by the acquisition date ––that will be displayed throughout the museum’s galleries until Dec. 30.
The collection includes works by Monet, Bellini, Mantegna, Caravaggio, Velázquez, Picasso, Matisse and other European masters. It also features Asian, African, and Precolumbian treasures such as the Chinese Bodhisattva Torso; the Japanese Shaka Buddha; the terracotta Head, Possibly of a King, from the Iife culture of Nigeria; a Standing Bodhisattva from the ancient region of Gandhara; and an inlaid figurine of a Standing Ruler from the Wari culture of Peru. Bernini’s Modello for the Fountain of the Moor, Michelangelo’s Torment of Saint Anthony and Poussin’s Sacrament of Ordination.
It also will feature seldom-seen architectural models and archival photographs, as well as didactic panels that document the Kimbell’s architectural legacy and its formidable record of acquisitions, exhibitions and educational programming.
Museum Director Eric M. Lee says, “The Kimbell’s leadership has never wavered in its steadfast dedication to the pursuit of quality, beginning with the museum’s founders, Kay and Velma Kimbell, who set out to establish an art museum ‘of the first class’ in their hometown of Fort Worth.”
While this exhibit celebrates one building, a new Renzo Piano pavilion with concrete walls, wooden beams and a glass roof is scheduled for a late 2013 opening.

Never-before-seen mummy collection at The Witte

The Witte Museum brings San Antonio’s Witte Museum brings the largest exhibition of mummies and related artifacts in a never-before-seen collection with contributions from 20 world-renowned museums across seven countries.
The “Mummies of the World” exhibit, which runs through Jan. 27, includes ancient mummies and important artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America and Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years. It explores the science and mystery of mummies with 150 specimens from around the world, including a 6,000-plus-year-old child mummy from Peru; a mummified family from Hungary believed to have died from tuberculosis; and a German nobleman found in his family’s crypt wearing his best leather boots.
Documentation from the study of these mummies also is featured in multimedia displays. Through modern science, engaging interactive and multimedia exhibits featuring 3-D animation, visitors can see how mummies are created, where they come from and who they were. Using state-of-the-art scientific methodology modern science enables researchers to study mummies through innovative and noninvasive ways, offering unprecedented insights into past cultures and civilizations.


Also in San Antonio, the Institute of Texan Cultures opened its first exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services since becoming an Affiliate in 2010.
"IndiVisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas," on view through Nov. 25, focuses on the seldom-viewed history and complex lives of people of dual African-American and Native American ancestry.
"IndiVisible is an opportunity to focus on the complexities of shared heritage and identity," says Angelica Docog, executive director of the Institute of Texan Cultures. "Looking at San Antonio and South Texas, we see a blending of cultures and life ways –– not only in communities, but in families. This is the opportunity to understand our unique identities and embrace our roots. This exhibit will help paint a more complete picture of who we are as Texans."
Since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, the lives of native and African peoples have been closely intertwined. From pre-colonial times, they intermarried, established communities and shared their lives and traditions. But racially motivated laws oppressed and excluded them. Still, their unique African-Native American cultural practices through food, language, writing, music, dance and the visual arts have thrived.
"The topic of African-Native Americans is one that touches a great number of individuals through family histories, tribal histories and personal identities," says Kevin Gover, National Museum of the American Indian director. "We find commonalities in our shared past of genocide, alienation from our ancestral homelands, and the exhibition acknowledges the strength and resilience we recognize in one another today."
"IndiVisible" was produced by the NMAI in collaboration with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
For more information, visit www.texancultures.com. Also, an online version of the exhibition is available at www.americanindian.si.edu/exhibitions/indivisible.

BIRD SPOTTING
As part of a new citizen science initiative, Texas residents are invited to help collect sighting information about the endangered whooping cranes, which have begun their annual 2,400-mile fall migration from Canada to Texas.
Texas Whooper Watch, part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Texas Nature Trackers program, aims to keep track of a growing whooping crane population, which continues a slow recovery from a low of 16 birds in the 1940s. This year biologists expect about 300 whooping cranes to start arriving in Texas in late October or early November. 
Whoopers have, with few exceptions, always wintered on the Texas coast on and near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.  However, in the winter of 2011-12, several groups of whooping cranes expanded their wintering areas to include more coastal areas and even some inland sites in Central Texas—patterns that surprised crane biologists. 
“Texas Whooper Watch is a program that asks the public to help us discover more about where whooping cranes stop in migration and to be ready to learn more about these potential new wintering areas,” says Lee Ann Linam, biologist in the Wildlife Diversity Program.
Whoopers usually follow a migratory path through North and Central Texas that includes cities such as Wichita Falls, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin and Victoria.  During migration they often pause overnight to use wetlands for roosting and agricultural fields for feeding, but they seldom remain more than one night.  They nearly always migrate in small groups of less than 6-8 birds, but they may be seen roosting and feeding with large flocks of the smaller sandhill crane.  They are the tallest birds in North America, standing nearly five feet tall.  They are solid white in color except for black wing-tips that are visible only in flight.  They fly with necks and legs outstretched.
Citizens can report whooping cranes sightings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 512-389-TXWW (8999). Additional information can be found at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/whoopingcranes and at www.whoopingcrane.com/report-a-sighting.

HIGH HONORS
In honor of his lifetime contributions to the travel and tourism industry in Texas, the Texas Travel Industry Association presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Bob Phillips, executive director of the Addison Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Phillips received the award during the association’s annual Texas Travel Summit Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort near Bastrop. Davis Phillips, president of Phillips Entertainment and the recipient’s nephew, made the award presentation on behalf of TTIA.
Phillips has been deeply involved in the Texas travel and tourism industry since 1977, when he joined the Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau. Soon after, he was hired to take over the Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau where he was instrumental in the early development of Grapevine into a convention, festival and tourism destination.
Phillips has been one of TTIA’s main supporters helping lead and guide the organization for more than three decades. He has served on its board of directors for more than 20 years and served as chairman in 1994.
Since 1988, Phillips has personally organized and overseen the annual TTIA/Texas Department of Transportation Study Tour, which takes travel counselors from the 12 Texas Travel Information Centers and AAA to destinations across Texas, providing first-hand information about those destinations so the counselors may educate the traveling public that goes to them for answers. Phillips recently produced a video documentary on the history of Aquarena Springs, one of Texas’ first tourist attractions.
TTIA President and CEO David Teel says, "Bob comes by his love of the Texas travel industry naturally, coming from a family filled with travel industry pioneers. His life is filled with examples of his commitment not only to the industry, but also to his family, friends and colleagues. He is an integral part of the travel and tourism industry in Texas and his dedication is absolute.”
Phillips says, “I can’t express how much this industry means to me and has all my life. I’ve had a wonderful time in this business.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to an individual nominated from the TTIA membership as one of the industry's most prestigious honors for lifetime contributions to TTIA and the betterment of travel and tourism in Texas.


Michelle Horine, Vice President of Leisure & Nature Travel, Corpus Christi Convention and Visitors Bureau, was presented with the Rising Star Award by the Texas Travel Industry Association at the association’s annual Travel Summit Conference, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort outside Bastrop. 
The TTIA Rising Star Award was created to recognize young industry professionals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment to the travel industry through their accomplishments.
Horine pioneered new ways to market Corpus Christi, making it a recognized nature destination and growing nature tourism in Corpus Christi to 54 percent of all visitor trips, more than four times the state average. The results have netted a direct economic impact of an additional $62.1 million to the city.
Horine completed Park Enhancement Projects, including newly branded nature specific interpretive signage in the city’s parks and roadways. She also spearheaded The Certified Wildlife Guide Program, a 16-hour online course, which teaches and tests area wildlife guides on conservation efforts, business management, marketing and species identification.
"Michelle has taken our nature tourism efforts from non-existent to an exemplary program with a very high yield for our destination,” says Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO Keith Arnold.
Horine was recently hailed as a "marketing firebrand” by Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. In an article in the August/September 2012 issue, writer Rob McCorkle noted that Horine’s role as the Vice President of Leisure & Nature Travel was Texas’ first travel industry title of this kind.
Horine recently completed her second year of a three year Certified Tourism Executive program with TTIA’s Travel & Tourism College, and she serves as chairman of the Texas Nature Tourism Council.

In the December 2012 issue, writer and culinary historian Robb Walsh digs into the latest trend he’s spied in the Texas restaurant scene—a morphing of ethnic influences and heritage foods that he calls the Creolization. This theme, which has resulted in culinary mash-ups like Vietnamese-Cajun crawfish and Pakistani fajitas, became clear as Walsh criss-crossed the state doing research for his latest book, Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook (Ten Speed Press).

In his introduction to Texas Eats, Walsh writes, “Texas has produced an amazing number of blues guitarists and singer-songwriters, but not so many opera singers. Likewise the state is better known for its folk cuisine than its haute cuisine. Texas top chefs do well in those televised cooking contests against chefs from other parts of the country. But our real strengths are folk foods like barbecued brisket, cheese enchiladas in chili gravy, and chicken-friend steak, and in those categories, it’s hard to find any state that can compete.

“The bicultural border cuisine called Tex-Mex is the most famous culinary hybrid in the state, but it’s not the only one. There are also thirty-some ethnic groups in Texas, each one with its own folk foods and each one contributing to our statewide potluck. In Hallettsville, a Czech-Tex hot dog has both sauerkraut and chili con carne on top. In Arlington, Korean doughnut shops sell jalapeño kolaches. In Sugar Land, Indian immigrants put chutney on their fajitas. And that’s part of the reason Texas food traditions are so fascinating.”

Similarly, that’s why Walsh’s Texas Eats is so fascinating. We love a cookbook that serves both as mealtime inspiration and cultural culinary roadmap, and Texas Eats shines on both fronts.  In chapters about Lone Star Seafood, East Texas Southern cooking, Vintage Tex-Mex, Central Texas and the Hill Country, Country and Western, and New Texas Creole, Walsh juxtaposes human-interest tales and culinary history with recipes that run the gamut from Galveston Crab Cakes to Texas Green Chile Posole.

For a recent casual dinner party with friends, I prepared Walsh’s recipe for Green Gumbo, a fish stew that Walsh describes as “a traditional Friday soup among the Catholic Cajuns of East Texas and western Louisiana.” It’s a tasty stew of panfish (I used Texas drum because my fishmonger at Austin’s Quality Seafood offered it on sale), carrots, onion, celery, parsley, potato, and collard and mustard greens—spiced up with three types of pepper (including cayenne), thyme, and bay leaves. It’s an extremely forgiving recipe—a plus for me since I rarely follow a recipe to the letter—and proved popular at the table, especially with a glass of Cava, a libation I’m sure would meet approval from the Catholic Cajuns who invented it. 

You can find Texas Eats at online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, or see www.tenspeed.com. —Lori Moffatt

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In the December 2012 issue’s Taste department, writer Mary O. Parker explores Texas’ fascination with pink peanut patties, those classic truck-stop treats that predate today’s sweet-and-salty candy trend. Here’s a recipe to try at home. You can add a dash of red food coloring if you like the rosy hue, but they’re just as addictive in their natural color. Sugar rush, ahead!

  • 2 ½ cups white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup (such as Karo)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1-2 T butter
  • dash of salt
  • 3 cups raw peanuts
  • 1 T vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, and peanuts. Bring to a simmer, then a slow boil, and stir to blend. Using a candy thermometer, monitor the mixture until it reaches a temperature between 234 and 240 degrees (soft ball stage). To test, drop a bit of syrup into a glass of cold water; the mixture should form a soft ball when removed from the water.

Immediately stir in the butter, salt, and vanilla (and food coloring if you’re using it), then spoon onto waxed paper to form patties. Allow to cool.

In the December 2012 issue’s Speaking of Texas department, writer Gene Fowler explores Elvis’ early career in Texas. In 1954, before he was well-known, Elvis played more than 100 dates in Texas, appearing at high-school gymnasiums, dance halls, and other smaller venues from the High Plains to the Piney Woods. Gene writes:

Performing regularly on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport during the early part of his career, Elvis was geographically positioned to make frequent runs through Texas. Presley exerted an important influence on Texas musicians as well as fans. When future Rockabilly great Bob Luman saw Elvis in Kilgore, as he later told music journalist Paul Hemphill, he quit trying to sing like classic honky-tonkers Lefty Frizzell and Webb Pierce and pursued the new hip-shakin', soul-quakin' style. Out west, Midland/Odessa record store owner Cecil Holifield wrote to Billboard in October 1955 that West Texas had become Presley's “hottest territory to date,” and Presley’s performances proved a musical revelation for aspiring artists Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, and Waylon Jennings. Presley's mother, Gladys Presley, was reportedly a big fan of Big D Jamboree star Charline Arthur, and Elvis himself is said to have borrowed some of Arthur’s ecstatic gyrations. Early in his career, Freddy Fender was dubbed the Mexican Elvis.

Tom Perryman recorded his Elvis experience in the 2007 book, Sixty Years of Keepin' It Country. The platform rocker on which Elvis gently rocked the Perryman's three young children can be seen at the East Texas Museum (116 W. Pacific, Gladewater 75647; 903/845-7608; www.gladewatermuseum.org), along with Billie Perryman's banana pudding recipe, which Elvis is reported to have loved.  

It seems that most everyone who met Elvis has vivid memories of the occasion. For example, Austin musician Jody Meredith remembers the time that someone stole the hubcabs from Elvis’ pink Cadillac at the Dessau Dance Hall in Austin. “I told him, Elvis, you ought to take your hubcaps off and put them in the trunk. Next time he played, he had his hubcaps in the trunk."

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